My First Yoga Lesson: Just Show Up. ~ Christine Martin

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Photo credit: Christine Martin

Yoga barged into my life. (Not very yogic, I know).

No real invitation. There was no flirting with the idea. Just bam!

There it was, in all its healing, meditative, painful glory.

And it wasn’t going anywhere.

Let me explain.

The minute the yoga-light-switch turned on for my husband, Craig, it was just a matter of time until I’d have it tapping my shoulder asking, you ready yet?…How about now?…Now?

Part of it is that yoga has become a powerful force in Craig’s life. He is really dedicated to it. To illustrate: the man goes to bed by 8 p.m., so he is able to rise at 4 a.m. to complete his nearly two-hour practice…daily.

Um, I don’t know anything I’m that dedicated to, except for my marriage…oh, and episodes of The Voice.

In time, Craig’s knowledge about yoga spilled out into our lives and with his gentle persuasions, (and sometimes yoga bullying, like “C’mon, if you just did yoga, you wouldn’t feel that pain anymore”), I started a practice. Then, without wanting to, I began saying things like, “I stopped at navasana (boat pose) today”, or “I should start some pranayama” (extension and control of the breath), or “Where are my Lululemons?” (kidding on that last one).

Obviously, learning some of the terminology does not make me more flexible or strong or grounded. But, in my short time of doing yoga, I can see that the actual practice does.

Part of this adoption into my life stems from Craig, but part of it comes from something I heard renowned Ashtanga practitioner/instructor, David Swenson, say when he was in Seoul for an Ashtanga workshop. He said something like this:

“The hardest part of yoga is to just show up. Once you’re there, the rest happens.”

He went on to say that if you just get up, put on your yoga clothes and stand on the mat, you’ve accomplished something. What naturally tends to happen is that once on that mat, you figure you may as well do the sun salutations which lead to the standing series and then a few sitting poses—and it just keeps going. Sharing this piece of advice through his gentle, humble and kind demeanor, David’s message stuck for me.

Yeah, there are days when I feel heavy or lethargic or just “don’t wanna.” By just showing up, I find that I move beyond my projections and end up feeling great after the practice. Guess that’s what Swenson meant when he said, “I’ve never regretted practicing.”

Just show up. Seems simple. In what other areas in life can this be applied?

• Communication with your spouse is currently challenging. Just show up; keep trying to find ways to understand one another.

• You’ve just finished eating a donut at a meeting while you’ve pledged to a new diet. Just show up; from this moment on become more mindful of your snack choices.

• That project, book or blog post didn’t get the feedback you anticipated. Just show up; keep working at it. If there’s passion behind what you do, it will get noticed.

I don’t expect those days when I just “don’t wanna” will vanish. It’s very human to have lapses in motivation. But having the intention of moving forward—of rolling out the yoga mat, so to speak—is the first step that may lead to more.

For this lesson, I’m glad yoga barged in. Now, I simply hold the door open.


Christine Martin has been an international educator for over ten years. She’s made her home in Colombia, Tunisia & Korea. Her passion is interior design/interior architecture and has recently completed certification in these areas. She enjoys travel, photography, food, yoga. She and her husband are making a huge life shift in October 2012, leaving their careers and moving to Laos where they hope to never wear mittens and coats again. You can find her on twitter, her personal blog, or interior design site.

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Editors: Jamie Morgan/Kate Bartolotta

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anonymous Aug 11, 2012 8:56am

[…] are as many different motives for coming to a first yoga practice as there are […]

anonymous Jul 19, 2012 8:02pm

[…] I show up on my mat regardless of how I’m feeling or if I want to be there. It’s actually easier to avoid the decision-making process entirely. And I can never truly know what will happen once I arrive. “Surprise me,” a little voice inside whispers to the cosmos. […]

anonymous May 11, 2012 8:42am

Another great post Chris. I think we need to constantly remind ourselves that all of the professionals, the experts, and the ones we look up to were also one beginners. Cheers to letting your light shine bright!

anonymous May 11, 2012 8:19am

[…] […]

anonymous May 10, 2012 11:58pm

Thanks, Angela. I totally get that with yoga. I hold myself to a high standard especially when I compare my practice to that of others. But, that's not what it's intended to be…it should be individual and it can be enough exactly where it is.

anonymous May 10, 2012 9:24pm

I feel inspired after reading this Christine, thanks for reminding me to just show up. I feel yoga is so important for me to do, but it's so easy to not do it. Keep the posts coming, I love your writing!

anonymous May 10, 2012 8:28pm

Just what I needed to hear today, Christine. Thank you and keep the writing coming because what you say can be easily communicated into forward movement in all of our lives. Namaste.

    anonymous May 10, 2012 11:56pm

    Thank you for your kind comment, Sara. I appreciate seeing you here.

anonymous May 10, 2012 6:35pm

So important! When I'm not feeling "perfectly" motivated I start to back out. Not a good technique! Thanks for the reminder to just go for it anyway.

    anonymous May 10, 2012 11:55pm

    I know, right? It's sometimes so much easier to avoid doing something altogether if we're not totally into it; but just a little bit goes a long way.

anonymous May 10, 2012 6:34pm

Amazing post & very inspiring too! I really enjoyed reading it … Passion + Dedication + Showing up= Full recipe of success 🙂

    anonymous May 10, 2012 11:54pm

    Great formula, Noushin. Thank you for reading and your comment.

anonymous May 10, 2012 6:13pm

Christine- I’m applying this attitude to my art practice. Somehow it is so hard to do, but I have a feeling that by just showing up, everyday, it’ll get easier. Thanks for the encouragement.

    anonymous May 10, 2012 11:53pm

    yes, mam. can't wait to see some of your work!

Bob Weisenberg May 8, 2012 9:50am

Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

Bob W. Associate Publisher
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